A Guide To Formal Womens Dress Codes

When you’re going to a formal event and there is a dress code, it can often be difficult to know exactly what it means! From cocktail to semi-formal and black tie, creative black tie, black tie optional and white tie, distinguishing between them all can be a challenge, which we are here to  help you with! You want to make sure that you are getting the dress code spot on when going to a formal event, so here is how you do it. 


First up we have the Cocktail dress code, which includes above the knee dresses and high heels. This tends to be the dresscode for some weddings or parties, giving the opportunity to combine a formal dresscode with something a bit fun. Guests can experiment with fun hair and makeup and unique dresses, whilst still looking polished. It is common to see a variety of colours, embellishments and materials, whilst staying sophisticated. If you are stuck, go for a simple fitted midi dress that you can glam up with sparkly jewellery and bright accessories, or keep it super sleek with a tight bun and simple makeup. 


Next up we have semi-formal dress code, which is a bit more difficult! This dress code sits somewhere between cocktail and black tie, where you keep things slightly more dressy than cocktail. At or just above the knee dresses are ideal for this, with a mostly simple design that might have a hint of something different, like a feather hem, leg split or embellished belt. The length is quite key here, making sure if you do go above the knee, it is only by a couple of inches maximum. 

If you are unsure, little black dresses that sit just above the knee are a popular choice. Go with classic Hollywood waves, glowy gold makeup and a simple clutch to nail this dresscode. 

Black Tie

We hear the term “black tie” very often, but many people don’t know what that actually is! The main feature of a black tie dress is floor length and a sophisticated look overall. So, you could choose a simple bardot black dress with extravagent jewels, a silver strapless floor length dress with long silver earrings or focus on a beautiful silhouette. This doesn’t have to be as dressy as a ball gown (that we will move onto), but it should be a very formal look. 

Creative Black Tie

Next we have creative black tie, where you take everything you know about black tie and put a fun spin on it. You don’t need to keep it as simple and understated, but you can be more bold with the silhouette, materials and styles. Sometimes creative black tie is the dress code where there is also a theme, so you can incorporate the theme into your look in a creative way. Think large and bold skirts, unique ruffle details, embellishments and trains. You should always keep things classy for a formal event, but this is your chance to have some fun whilst also looking very formal. 

White Tie

Last but certainly not least, we have white tie. This is the most formal dress code there is, so you need to get ready to get very dressed up and pull out your luxury womens clothing. A full length ball gown is often the go-to, or a fitted dress with an accompanying attached skirt or train to add some volume. Many people will also wear long gloves to a white tie event, although this isn’t always essential. Think sleek, elegant and glam with this look. You are likely to have a dress that is going to steal the show, so keep things simple with your hair and makeup, but don’t be afraid to wear your very best jewellery.